What do you get when you mix ST-TNG quality storytelling with borderline Family Guy humor? One strange television show, and one of the breakout series of late 2017. To many people’s surprise, the show managed to balance Macfarlane’s unique sense of humor with some honest-to-God good Sci-Fi storytelling (though it probably shouldn’t have been such a shock, considering Macfarlane’s well documented love for Trek and science fiction in general). Orville manages to blend fun storytelling in with a dash (or sometimes a gallon) of commentary on topical social difficulties, and most importantly for me – he does it with great special effects and an awesome looking starship that I started drooling over almost from the first preview.
The USS Orville ECV-197 is a mid-level exploration cruiser. It’s not one of the big boys in the pond. A Sovereign-class starship this ain’t. At 337 meters in length, it’s not meant to be the biggest, strongest, baddest ship out in the field – and that makes for some good storytelling as well as plenty of scientifically implausible but visually awesome on-screen maneuvering. And it needed, nay, DEMANDED a model to be built. Two companies stepped up to the plate and developed their models almost concurrently. Ironically they are similar size, despite different stated scales: one company recently released a 15 inch model in a stated 1/1400 scale, and another released theirs in 1/1000 scale…but at 13.25 inches in length. Why the scale and size discrepancy? Because, sci-fi. There has been a lot of discussion over the size of the Orville, putting the ship anywhere from 527m to 337. Both numbers have solid reasoning behind them, and until someone on screen says, “The Orville is XX meters long,” we’re left with mere supposition for now.
With two similar models to choose from, I picked the slightly smaller kit. At $175 usd, it’s slightly more expensive than the other version – however it’s cast specifically with lighting in mind, and I wanted my Orville to glow in space. So after a brief scream from my credit card from a combo order (why buy one item when you can buy two at twice the price?), the Orville came home to dock at the Novahobbies Spacedock.
The provided instruction manual is comprehensive in the extreme. At 11 pages, the manual goes into fine detail regarding painting and wiring the model for lighting. He gives suggestions for lighting options, where to find them, how to wire the kit the way he wired his…..and the last page says, “More to come,” implying he may add additional tips on his photobucket account in the future. The decal sheet is small, but there don’t seem to be a lot of markings on the Orville.
The Orville is cast in clear and opaque resin, as needed for lighting. You get 7 clear parts comprising the main hull, engine grilles, and “bussard domes.” The three main engine hoop and the shuttlebay door are cast in opaque resin, and the longest middle hoop has brass rods cast into it to prevent future sagging.
Speaking of casting – all three hoops have color coded wires pre-cast into the kit parts, allowing you to bring lighting options up into the rear engines. The opaque resin hoops have some minor flash on them, but it’s nothing more than what I call fingernail flash….i.e., you can scrape it off with your nail and call it done.
The engine parts themselves are cast flat in clear, but the thin resin is pliable and needs only to be cut out and carefully bent with warm water to fit into the corresponding engine slots on the hoops. There is plenty of space underneath the engine part to run LED lighting or even EL wire which will provide a beautiful even glow.
The lower hoop has additional wiring for the ‘bussard bits’ that go at the front side of the hoops. All wiring is color coded so it’s easy to see which wires go to which parts. The lower hoop part also mates with the two parts for the primary hull, and grooves have been cut out of the primary hull parts to allow easy access for the extra wiring. I’m glad the grooves are there, but a quick test fit tells me they’re going to need to be widened out a little bit before we get a seamless fit.
Now, about that primary hull – oh my gosh. It’s gorgeous. Not a trace of flash to be seen, hull seams on a panel line that makes it nearly invisible with minimal cleanup, and plenty of space inside the hull to run your LEDs or chosen lighting option.
What with all this wiring, you can’t really test fit the model and tack it together like many other resin kits. Yes, believe me I tried – not that I would EVER admit to whooshing a model around the room at my age. But a rough layout of the kit parts against a tape measure puts the model at just about 13 inches, so pretty close to the 1/1000 scale if you believe the 337m that the original show modelers had intended.
There’s no doubt in my mind, this modelmaker has knocked it waaay out of the park with this model. The detail is incredible, there are no major flaws or spots to work on that I can see, and I won’t even have to reinforce any heavy parts with brass. This is a model for moderate level kit builders, and I give it a very solid 5 out of 5 stars for attention to detail and mold quality. It’s going to be a serious joy to build and display this one. I’m looking forward to it.